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The Crucible by Arthur Miller Arthur Miller’s Biography Realism in American Drama.

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Presentation on theme: "The Crucible by Arthur Miller Arthur Miller’s Biography Realism in American Drama."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Crucible by Arthur Miller Arthur Miller’s Biography Realism in American Drama

2 Arthur Miller Born 1915 in New York. Born 1915 in New York. Was born to Jewish-American parents Isidore and Augusta Miller. Was born to Jewish-American parents Isidore and Augusta Miller. Isidore owned a women's clothes and coat-manufacturing business, which failed in the Wall Street Crash of Isidore owned a women's clothes and coat-manufacturing business, which failed in the Wall Street Crash of The Great Depression significantly effected Arthur Miller’s family; they were forced to move to humbler quarters in Brooklyn and they couldn’t pay for him to go to college. The Great Depression significantly effected Arthur Miller’s family; they were forced to move to humbler quarters in Brooklyn and they couldn’t pay for him to go to college. Upon receiving a scholarship to the University of Michigan AM was forced to work menial jobs to pay for his tuition. Upon receiving a scholarship to the University of Michigan AM was forced to work menial jobs to pay for his tuition.

3 Historical Context Great Depression (1929-early 1930s) Great Depression (1929-early 1930s) - unemployment went from 4% to 25% between forced new Democratic President Roosevelt to implement the New Deal The New Deal The New Deal - shift in political and domestic policy in the U.S. - increased federal government control over the economy and money supply - intervention to control prices and agricultural production. - beginning of complex social programs (Welfare state) and wider acceptance of trade unions.

4 Federal Theatre Project The Federal Theatre Project (FTP) was a New Deal project to fund theatre and other live artistic performances in the U.S during the Great Depression. The Federal Theatre Project (FTP) was a New Deal project to fund theatre and other live artistic performances in the U.S during the Great Depression. The FTP's primary goal was employment of out- of-work artists, writers, and directors, with the secondary aim of entertaining poor families and creating relevant art. The FTP's primary goal was employment of out- of-work artists, writers, and directors, with the secondary aim of entertaining poor families and creating relevant art.

5 Early Career In 1944 Miller wrote The Man Who Had All the Luck, which was produced in New York and won the Theater Guild's National Award. In 1944 Miller wrote The Man Who Had All the Luck, which was produced in New York and won the Theater Guild's National Award. The next few years were difficult for Miller: He published his first novel, Focus, to little acclaim and adapted George Abbott's and John C. Holm's Three Men on a Horse for television. The next few years were difficult for Miller: He published his first novel, Focus, to little acclaim and adapted George Abbott's and John C. Holm's Three Men on a Horse for television. In 1947 Miller produced All My Sons at the Coronet Theater. The play was directed by Elia Kazan, with whom Miller would have a continuing professional and personal relationship. The play was a commercial success and ran for 328 performances. In 1947 Miller produced All My Sons at the Coronet Theater. The play was directed by Elia Kazan, with whom Miller would have a continuing professional and personal relationship. The play was a commercial success and ran for 328 performances. All My Sons won the New York Drama Critics Circle Award and two Tony Awards in 1947, despite Miller receiving criticism for being a Communist. All My Sons won the New York Drama Critics Circle Award and two Tony Awards in 1947, despite Miller receiving criticism for being a Communist.

6 All My Sons All My Sons tells the story of Joe Keller, a successful, middle-aged, self-made man who has done a terrible and tragic thing: during World War II, rushing to meet an order from the Army, he knowingly sold them defective airplane parts which later caused the planes to crash and killed 21 men. All My Sons tells the story of Joe Keller, a successful, middle-aged, self-made man who has done a terrible and tragic thing: during World War II, rushing to meet an order from the Army, he knowingly sold them defective airplane parts which later caused the planes to crash and killed 21 men. He framed his business partner for this crime and engineered his own exoneration; now, his son is about to marry the partner's daughter, the affair is revisited, and the lie of a life is unraveled. He framed his business partner for this crime and engineered his own exoneration; now, his son is about to marry the partner's daughter, the affair is revisited, and the lie of a life is unraveled. Themes: Themes: - War profiteering - Obligation of family over society "I'm his father and he's my son, and if there's anything greater than that I'll put a bullet in my head!“ - Critique of American Dream

7 Death of a Salesman Regarded as Miller’s masterpiece. Death of a Salesman premiered on Broadway in 1949 at the Morosco Theatre, directed by Kazan, and starring Lee Cobb as Willy Loman. The play was critically acclaimed, winning a Tony Award for best play, and a Pulitzer Prize and ran for 742 performances. Regarded as Miller’s masterpiece. Death of a Salesman premiered on Broadway in 1949 at the Morosco Theatre, directed by Kazan, and starring Lee Cobb as Willy Loman. The play was critically acclaimed, winning a Tony Award for best play, and a Pulitzer Prize and ran for 742 performances. Tragic story of everyman Willy Loman and his pursuit of the American Dream. Tragic story of everyman Willy Loman and his pursuit of the American Dream. The play’s success is attributed to Miller's facility in portraying the universal hopes and fears of middle-class America. Through his main character, Willy Loman, Miller examines the myth of the American Dream and the shallow promise of happiness through material wealth. He uses Willy as an example of how undivided faith in such a dream can often yield tragic results, especially when it goes largely unfulfilled. The play’s success is attributed to Miller's facility in portraying the universal hopes and fears of middle-class America. Through his main character, Willy Loman, Miller examines the myth of the American Dream and the shallow promise of happiness through material wealth. He uses Willy as an example of how undivided faith in such a dream can often yield tragic results, especially when it goes largely unfulfilled.

8 Arthur Miller on Realism ‘Realism is a style, an artful convention, and not a piece of reportage. What, after all, is real about having all the furniture in a living room facing floodlights? Realism is a style, an invention quite as consciously created as Expressionism, Symbolism or any of the other less familiar forms’.

9 Realism in American Drama Broadly defined as ‘the faithful representation of reality’ or ‘verisimilitude’, realism is a literary technique practiced by many schools of writing in the 19C. Broadly defined as ‘the faithful representation of reality’ or ‘verisimilitude’, realism is a literary technique practiced by many schools of writing in the 19C. Dramatic Realism in the 19C referred to a technique or set of techniques for representing the social reality of the middle class (see the plays of Henrik Ibsen). Dramatic Realism in the 19C referred to a technique or set of techniques for representing the social reality of the middle class (see the plays of Henrik Ibsen). George Lukacs asserted that literary realism is political; it is about penetrating the ideological veneer of bourgeois reality. Show social reality as it really is and critique false constructions of reality (i.e. the Amercian Dream). George Lukacs asserted that literary realism is political; it is about penetrating the ideological veneer of bourgeois reality. Show social reality as it really is and critique false constructions of reality (i.e. the Amercian Dream). Arthur Miller’s plays are about faithfully representing the struggles of middle-class families in post-war America. The major theme of his early work is a critique of the American Dream as an ideological apparatus. All My Sons and Death of a Salesman both show the tragic consequences of everymen pursuing the American Dream. Arthur Miller’s plays are about faithfully representing the struggles of middle-class families in post-war America. The major theme of his early work is a critique of the American Dream as an ideological apparatus. All My Sons and Death of a Salesman both show the tragic consequences of everymen pursuing the American Dream.

10 Characteristics of His Writings/Beliefs Explores psychological and social issues that emerged in the political and cultural landscape of post-WWII America: Explores psychological and social issues that emerged in the political and cultural landscape of post-WWII America: - the dangers of rampant materialism - the struggle for dignity in a dehumanizing world - the erosion of the family structure - and the perils of besetting human rights. Focuses on the morality of pressures exerted on people by family and society (American Dream). Focuses on the morality of pressures exerted on people by family and society (American Dream). Depicts family and social relationships with great detail. Depicts family and social relationships with great detail. Shows that man is inescapably social and it is impossible to understand man unless one knows his society. Shows that man is inescapably social and it is impossible to understand man unless one knows his society. Recognition that the social environment is a support as well as a prison. Recognition that the social environment is a support as well as a prison. Portrays men most convincingly, while displaying women mostly as relations to men. Portrays men most convincingly, while displaying women mostly as relations to men.

11 Events leading up to the writing of The Crucible In 1952, Elia Kazan appeared before the House Un- American Activities Committee (HUAC) and, under fear of being blacklisted from Hollywood, named eight people from the Group Theatre who in recent years had been fellow members of the Communist Party. In 1952, Elia Kazan appeared before the House Un- American Activities Committee (HUAC) and, under fear of being blacklisted from Hollywood, named eight people from the Group Theatre who in recent years had been fellow members of the Communist Party. After speaking with Kazan about his testimony Miller traveled to Salem, Massachusetts to research the witch trials of After speaking with Kazan about his testimony Miller traveled to Salem, Massachusetts to research the witch trials of Arthur Miller wrote The Crucible in response to his former friend’s testimony to the HUAC and the McCarthy era ‘witch-hunt’ of left-leaning intellectuals and artists. Arthur Miller wrote The Crucible in response to his former friend’s testimony to the HUAC and the McCarthy era ‘witch-hunt’ of left-leaning intellectuals and artists.

12 Kazan’s Response Kazan felt that it was in the best interest of the country and his own liberal beliefs to cooperate with HUAC's anti-communist efforts in order to counter Communists in Hollywood who were co-opting the liberal agenda. Kazan felt that it was in the best interest of the country and his own liberal beliefs to cooperate with HUAC's anti-communist efforts in order to counter Communists in Hollywood who were co-opting the liberal agenda. Kazan felt no allegiance to Communism, and had been disillusioned by the Soviet Union's brutal record of murder and repression during Stalin's Purges, and the Polish massacres of World War II. Kazan felt no allegiance to Communism, and had been disillusioned by the Soviet Union's brutal record of murder and repression during Stalin's Purges, and the Polish massacres of World War II. Kazan resented the Party's attempt to force their agenda on him during his theatre group days. Kazan resented the Party's attempt to force their agenda on him during his theatre group days. Though Kazan testified to HUAC under threat of ostracism and blacklisting by the Hollywood studios, he was in turn shunned and ostracized by many of his former friends. Though Kazan testified to HUAC under threat of ostracism and blacklisting by the Hollywood studios, he was in turn shunned and ostracized by many of his former friends.

13 On the Waterfront (1954) Many interpret On the Waterfront as Kazan's own justification of his actions to his critics. Many interpret On the Waterfront as Kazan's own justification of his actions to his critics. The film’s plot centers around dock worker which Terry Malloy (Marlon Brando) who courageously agrees to testify against his former mentor, a corrupt dockland union boss. The film’s plot centers around dock worker which Terry Malloy (Marlon Brando) who courageously agrees to testify against his former mentor, a corrupt dockland union boss.


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